Nakagyo is the centre of nightlife and entertainment in Kyoto with numerous restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs to offer something for everyone. There are a number of large bars frequented by expats offering all-you-can-drink deals, making for a raucous evening. For a more relaxed experience head into one of the smaller, more intimate lounges. They are located above or below the ground level of buildings so don’t forget to look up.
Blue Note is one of Kyoto’s oldest live music clubs. and is well-known for the quality of the live blues and jazz played here. The crowd here is extremely mixed. It has followers of all ages; from an older crowd to office staff to university students. This bar is a cozy place to drink and chat away the night with great music to complement the evening. Live music is usually on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday, although some weekday gigs do take place.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 7pm to 2am
- Address: 266-1 Kitakurumayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8021, Japan
Gnome is an Irish pub offering plenty of traditional Irish meals like colcannon and freshly baked soda bread. There's also Guinness and Kilkenny on tap. Prices are reasonable, plus all vegetables used in their kitchen are organic. Gnome is popular for having regular live music and happy hour runs daily from 5pm to 8pm. Don’t forget to check out the crafts shop upstairs which is also run by the same talented owner. Gnome is located in the basement of the SSS building, close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 5pm to 1am (closes later on weekends)
- Address: SSS Building B1F, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-0924, Japan
Live Spot Rag
Live Spot Rag is one of the most interesting nightlife venues in Kyoto. You can listen to live music from rock to jazz to acoustic ballads. Small tables are scattered around the room and there’s more space to stand around the bar with a good view of the stage. The kitchen offers a mix of everything from Japanese to pan-Asian and some western dishes. Highlights from the menu include smoked salmon pizza, Malaysian chicken curry, Chinese style spring rolls, seafood & seaweed salad and tofu salad.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 6pm to 2am (closes later on weekends)
- Address: Kyoto Empire Building 5F, Sanjoagaru, Kiyacho, Bunkyo-ku, Kyoto
- Tel: +81 (0)75-241-0446
You’d be surprised to see how many Kyoto people love salsa and Latin dances. Café Rumbita is among the city’s favourite venues for Latin beats. The café puts on salsa dance classes nightly at 9pm, from beginners to advanced level. After the class, the floor is open for everyone to party and dance the night away. Mexican and Cuban dishes are served at Café Rumbita and there’s a fully stocked bar. It’s easy to find the bar on Pontocho-dori, a popular nightlife street close to Sanjo subway station.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9pm to 2am. Saturdays open until 5am
- Location: Shizuya Building 3F, 2-258-19 Kawaramachidoori Sanjo Sagaru Yamazakicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8032, Japan
Described as a place for ‘serious drinking’, Backgammon is a popular late night spot drawing groups of people from the clubs who are not ready for the night to end. The bar is cozy and dark and if you are able to climb the ladder you can sit in the crow’s nest and have your drinks sent up by a special elevator. Backgammon is located on Kiyamachi street, surrounded by other bars and restaurants. Take the subway to Sanjo station and cross the bridge.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8pm to 5am
- Location: Aoi Biru Hitosujime nishi-iru, 2F, Kiyamachi-Sanjo agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8005, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 223 0416
Metro is a dance club that hosts the best house and techno nights in Kyoto. This eclectic club also hosts a myriad of events from small concerts, to discos, to art exhibitions. Latin nights draw huge crowds and the Non-Hetero-at-the-Metro nights are major gay and lesbian events in Kyoto. The club draws an interesting mix of creative people with a different musical theme every night. Club Metro is easy to find next door to Marutamachi station on the Keihan line.
- Location: Ebisu Biru, B1F, Kawabata-dori-Marutamachi kudaru, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 606-8396, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 752 4765